Music Mondays #11: The Irony & Reality of O Holy Night

O Holy Night

verse 1
O holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared
And the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn

chorus 1
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel’s voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night, O night divine

verse 2
Led by the light
Of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts
By His cradle we stand
So led by a light
Of a star sweetly beaming
Here comes the wise men
Of Orient land
The King of Kings
Lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials
Born to be our friend

chorus 2
He knows our need
To our weakness is no stranger
Behold your King
Behold Him, lowly bend
Behold your King
Behold Him, lowly bend

verse 3
Truly He taught us
To love one another
His law is love
And His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name
All oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us
Praise His holy name

chorus 3
Christ is the Lord
O praise His name forever
His power and glory
Forevermore proclaim
His power and glory
Forevermore proclaim

Part I:  The Irony

This song that we recognize today as a hymn was originally a poem.  The original poem was written by a Frenchman named Adolphe Adam.  It was later taken by a Unitarian minister and adapted into a singable version of the poem, i.e., the song we all know and love today!  Anyway, I think it hilarious in the most ironic way possible that THIS song–one of the most popular and most recorded Christmas songs–is about the coming of the birth of the Savior and redemption, but yet it is highly revered and sung by a world that rejects Him!  Check out the original poem and then keep reading.

I am a lover of lyrics.  If the music is weak, but the words are tight, then you’ll have me.  However, if the music is tight, but the words suck, then you’ll lose me.  I am convicted and moved by good lyrics.  That’s why I personally find it hard to totally embrace most secular music.  I’ll tune in every now and then to see what’s up, but you won’t find me dwelling on it unless I find something I can get with, you know?  Anyway, I am trying to understand how people can sing words like fall on your knees…Christ is the Lord…it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth and not be changed by them!  Do they think it’s a bedtime story or something?  Do people just not pay attention to song lyrics?  Maybe that’s why there are so many popular STUPID songs out there.  Maybe I’m just too darn observant!  Although the birth of Jesus makes for an awesome bedtime story, He is NOT a fictional character from some child’s book!  He’s not some historical figure who was just a really nice dude.  Well, He was a really nice dude, but He’s WAAAAAAY more than that.  Next section….

Part II:  The Reality

Jesus is not a baby in a manger anymore.  He grew up–looooooooong time ago.  If Jesus was still physically with us today he would be at least 2,011 years old!  Notice I stayed away from saying “if Jesus were alive” because He is alive!  Take some time–right now–to figure out how you know He’s alive today and then continue reading.

My pastor started all this, and I’m so glad He did because we tend to keep Jesus in boxes.  You know, for Christmas He’s this cute little white baby lying in a manger.  For Easter He’s this mildly attractive white man with a couple scratches on his torso wearing a loin cloth trying to look like he’s dead on a cross.  Yall know what I mean!  Jesus is none of those things; He is very much alive and well today.  Anyway, picture this (and Pastor Crute, if you’re reading, I’m sure you won’t mind recanting this!):  it’s YOUR birthday, and I’m throwing a party for you.  EVERYBODY who’s anybody is there.  As a matter of fact, I did some homework and told of some of the historic things that happened around the time you were born.  I even went back to your home town, took pictures of the hospital you were born in, brought in the doctor who delivered you, and everything!  So, at your party, I present all these people and all these things to you and the guests to commemorate and highlight your birth.  That’s all.  No gift!  Just celebrating the day of your birth.  How would you feel?  If it’s not a good feeling, then you would be right, right?  Why?  There’s more to you then just the fact that you were born!  Your birthday is not a memorial service.  It’s a celebration of life!  So…if you think this way about me giving you a party like that, then how in the world do you think Jesus feels about what we do for Him year after year after year?  People go to candle light services and crap like that.  Jesus is NOT dead!!  Why do we celebrate His birthday like He is?

Alright, so we’ve established the fact that Jesus is very much alive, and we’ve recognized that there is more to a birthday celebration than just commemorating someone’s birth.  SO, how then do we even begin to REALLY have a birthday party that Jesus will be talking about for all eternity?  I mean, just think about your most favorite birthday.  Why was it your favorite?  What happened to make it stick out in your mind?  Once you have that in your head, then perhaps you can start to think about what kind of a celebration Jesus would appreciate.  How should you decorate so that anyone who comes in can recognize who the party is for?  Sidebar:  did you know that Christmas trees come from a pagan ritual?  Just a thought.  So, for example, Jesus always talked about being the light of the world so obviously you need to have a lot of lights.  That idea came from Pastor Crute.  The idea I had was to decorate in white, red, gold and silver.  White is the base color because Jesus is pure and holy.  Red is the accent color to represent the blood.  I would use gold and silver to reflect all the lights and just make the place GLOW–sorry, nothing spiritual for those LOL.  Anyway, you see what I’m trying to say about that?  The point is this:  Christmas is no longer about Jesus–even in the church!  We all give gifts to each other talkin’ ’bout, “Well, God gave Jesus, so we should give gifts.”  HOGWASH!  I mean, can you imagine being at your own birthday party and EVERYBODY gets a gift except you?  How do we begin to honor and give to Jesus on HIS birthday?

Here’s another thing.  Pause:  I know you probably think I’m going on a tangent and forgot about O Holy Night, but I haven’t…here it is!  Play:  Go back to the idea that birthday party is more than just celebrating birth.  Most of the songs that are actually about Jesus have to do with Him being a baby which endorses the idea that we should only celebrate His birth.  So, I started thinking about which songs would be acceptable for our new meaning for Christmas.  Of course, the numbers that failed completely outweighed the ones that passed.  However, there was one, I felt, that stood out among the rest: O Holy Night!  Why?  I think this song does a great job of honoring Jesus’ birth as well as not keeping Him in the manger.  The second and least known verse talks about the birth and pretty much all the “Christmasy” “cute baby” type stuff.  The first and most popular verse also talks about the birth and gives us a glimpse of what Jesus is coming to do, which is save the world.  So really, that takes us all the way through Jesus’ life and ends with His death.  The third verse is my favorite.  This verse, to me, is talking about Jesus’ legacy and what’s still going on today.  THAT is the type of song you want sung at your birthday party!  Something that encapsulates your whole life AND what’s gonna happen after you leave the earth!  WOO!  SO…you know my wheels are turning now!  I am now trying to construct lyrics that would do Him justice on His day.  Honestly, I’m not that great at writing song lyrics, so I’m thinking about remaking some popular Christmas songs.  That should be really fun!  Anyone else want to take on the challenge?


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